Update on countries in political transition

Chad

Date | 14 April 2022

Tomorrow (14 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1076th session to receive updates on political transitions in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali and Sudan.

Following opening remarks by Willy Nyamitwe, Permanent Representative of Burundi to the AU and the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of April, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is expected to deliver a statement. Other participants that will be delivering statements and presentations include: Professor Mohammed Al-Hacen Lebatt, Principal Strategic Adviser of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and AU Special Envoy to Sudan; Representative of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Secretariat; Representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chair of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS); Basile Ikouebe, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Office in Chad; Representative of the Republic of Ghana, Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); and Maman Sidikou, High Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Mission for the Sahel (MISAHEL).

This session is convened in line with the PSC’s request of the Commission for a regular update on Chad, Mali, Sudan, Guinea and Burkina Faso at its different sessions held to consider the situation in each of these countries after experiencing unconstitutional change of government (UCG). Previously, the Council has dedicated separate sessions to receive updates on the situations in each of the above countries, and this will be the first time that the Council will consider them in one session. Tomorrow’s session is an opportunity for the Council to take stock of latest developments around the transition towards the restoration of constitutional order in member States that have experienced UCG in 2021 and early 2022. It is worth recalling that the PSC has imposed sanctions against all of these countries with the exception of Chad.

It is the second time that the Council considers the situation in Burkina Faso after the 24 January 2022’s military coup against the democratically elected President Marc Roch Christian Kabore, the first meeting being held at its 1062nd session convened on 31 January. In that session, it is to be recalled that the Council suspended the country from all AU activities until the effective restoration of normal constitutional order. Council also endorsed the 28 January 2022 communique of the Extraordinary Summit of ECOWAS, which among others requested the immediate restoration of constitutional order without specifying timeline. However, in the subsequent Summit held on 3 February, the regional bloc asked military authorities to ‘establish the Transition institutions, adopt a transition calendar and facilitate the return to constitutional order within the shortest time’.

Since its last session on 31 January, Burkina Faso adopted a Transition Charter on 1 March, setting a three-year transition period. The Charter was adopted after consultations between the military leaders, political parties, civil society groups, and other stakeholders. Among the provisions of the Charter is the one that bars the interim President and the coup leader Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba (he was sworn in as President on 2 March to lead the transition), as well as members of the transitional government from running for elections. A civilian Prime Minster and a cabinet consisting of 25 ministers were also appointed on 4 and 5 March. On 19 March, a transitional assembly was appointed as well, which will serve as the legislative body during the transition. The reported release of President Roch Kabore is another welcome development.

While all these developments are positive steps towards the restoration of a constitutional order, the 36 months duration of the transition period will remain issue of concern for the Council though it did not put any specific timeline for the transition at its previous session. On the part of ECOWAS, it has already expressed its concern over the duration of the transition at its most recent extraordinary summit convened on 25 March. The communique adopted at the Summit further demanded the ‘finalization of an acceptable transition timetable no later than 25th April 2022’, failure to which the regional bloc threatened to impose an immediate economic and financial sanctions. On the security front, terrorists have continued to stage their attacks which has exacerbated the humanitarian situation in the country.

The last time the Council considered the situation in Chad was in August 2021 during its 1016th session. Hence tomorrow’s meeting will be the first session of 2022 where the Council considers the developments in the country. It is to be recalled that following the military seizure after Idriss Deby’s death on 20 April 2021, the PSC decided not to suspend Chad contrary to AU norms. The event in Chad was not referred as a coup or unconstitutional change of government by the PSC. However, the Council urged the military to hand over political power to civilian authorities and authorised the urgent deployment of a fact-finding mission to Chad. Moreover, in its 996th session the Council requested, among others, the completion of the transition to democratic rule within 18 months, effective from 20 April 2021; guarantee that the Chair of Transitional Military Council (TMC) and its members do not run in the upcoming national elections; and the urgent revision of the Transition Charter. The Council also requested Chadian authorities to ‘urgently establish the National Transition Council’. During the 996th session the PSC also decided for the establishment of an AU-led Support Mechanism (AUSM) for Chad. The PSC, in its last session on Chad, at its 1016th session has urged for ‘dialogue between the Transition Government and all relevant Chadian stakeholders including opposition political parties and armed groups’.

Tomorrow’s session will be critical in assessing the level of implementation of the various requests made by the PSC and to examine the overall status of the transition process. The National Transition Council has been announced in September 2021 to serve as an interim parliament during the transition period. On the other hand, considerable delays have been witnessed around the national dialogue process. The TMC has declared amnesty for various rebel armed groups to facilitate their participation in the planned dialogue. However, there are still concerns around the inclusivity of the national dialogue, as key civilian groups are still missing and the focus has been more on the inclusion of politico-military groups. It would be also important for the PSC to underline the importance for respecting the 18-month transition period.

Council’s last deliberation on Guinea took place at its 1064th session convened on 10 February 2022. At that session, Council welcomed some of the key positive developments in Guinea’s political transition which include the establishment of a Transition Government with complete appointment of members of the National Transitional Council (NTC), the appointment of a civilian Prime Minister and the adoption of a Transition Charter. The release of former President Alpha Conde was also another positive development highlighted at the 1064th session – although Conde has returned to Conakry on 8 April, after which the transition government announced he shall remain in Guinea as long as his health allows.

Despite taking some positive steps, the transition authorities are also yet to meet the key requirements fundamental to ensuring the restoration of constitutional order. Notwithstanding the appointment of a civilian Prime Minister, key government positions continue to be held by military figures. The transition authorities were also unable to conduct national elections within the six months period stipulated by ECOWAS at its Extraordinary Summit of 16 September 2021 and endorsed by the PSC at its 1036th session of 5 October 2021. Not only have Guinean authorities failed to respect the stipulated timeline for the conduct of elections, they are also yet to announce a clear transition timetable. Having regard to the slow progress of restoring constitutional order and particularly in light of the missed deadline for the conduct of elections, ECOWAS, at its Extraordinary Summit of 25 March 2022, demanded the “finalisation of an acceptable transition timetable no later than 25 April 2022”. It further threatened the immediate imposition of economic and financial sanctions upon the expiry of this deadline without submission of the transition timetable.

In addition to following up on some of the key decisions of its previous session including its request for the AU Commission to ensure provision of technical support to Guinea, Council may urge Guinean authorities to finalise and submit a transition timetable which presents a reasonable and acceptable timeline for the conduct of elections and restoration of constitutional order.

At its last session dedicated to the situation in Mali – the 1057th session held on 14 January 2022 – the PSC endorsed the Communiqué of ECOWAS’s 4th Extraordinary Summit of 9 January 2022 which imposed economic and political sanctions against Mali, following the latter’s adoption of a transition calendar which delays the national elections until the end of December 2025. Council also strongly rejected the calendar submitted by Mali and referred to the timeline suggested as an “undue elongation of the transition process in Mali” as well as an “unconstitutional, impermissible, inappropriate and a grave obstruction to democratic processes”. Accordingly, it called on Malian authorities to ensure completion of the transition period within 16 months.

Despite the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS and PSC’s endorsement of the regional block’s decision as well as condemnations from the international community, the transition in Mali remains very slow. On 4 February 2022, the European Union (EU) adopted sanctions, including travel ban and asset freeze, against five members of Mali’s transitional Government, in support of ECOWAS’s decisions. In response, members of the transition authority organised a rally against EU’s sanctions. Recent developments including the request for Danish forces, deployed as part of the Takuba Task Force to leave the country on 24 January as well as France’s Ambassador to Mali to leave the country within 72 hours on 31 January demonstrate the deteriorating relationship of Mali’s transitional government with various partners. Moreover, on 11 April, the EU decided to halt its military trainings in Mali voicing concern over the interference and operation of Wagner Group.

On 21 February, Mali’s National Transition Council (NTC) unanimously adopted a draft law tabled by the Government for amending the 2020 Transition Charter. Among the contents of the revision is the modification of the transition timeline in line with recommendations of the national dialogue of December 2021. Key political oppositions, particularly the Cadre d’échange or “Exchange Framework” have completely rejected the revision of the Transition Charter. Meanwhile, efforts to resolve the impasse between Malian government and regional and international partners have continued. Particularly, ECOWAS’s Mediator for Mali has been actively engaging the transition government, although no agreement could be reached so far. At its recent Extraordinary Summit of 25 March 2022, ECOWAS showed flexibility and indicated possibility for gradual lifting of its sanctions on the condition that Malian authorities adhere to the timeline established by the joint technical team of ECOWAS, AU and UN, to extend the transition period for additional 12 to 16 months, effective from 15 March 2022. However, Mali’s interim President did not take part at the 15 March ECOWAS Summit, despite invitation extended by the regional body. On the other hand, upon ECOWAS’s communication of the proposed addition of 12 to 16 months to the transition period, Malian authorities engaged the ECOWAS mediator for Mali and successively proposed a period of 36, 29 and then 24 months. ECOWAS has however maintained the 12 to 16 months proposed by the joint technical team.

In light of this discourse, Council may urge Mali’s transition authorities to adhere to the new timeline agreed by ECOWAS, AU and UN and to work towards resolving the stalemates faced with regional and international stakeholders. It may also reiterate its previous calls for Malian transition authorities to commit to not participate in the elections at the end of the transition period.

The Council was last updated on the situation on Sudan during its 1060th session held on 25 January 2022. In this session, the Council is expected to hear about latest developments in the country and AU’s engagement to resolve the crisis following the 25 October 2021 coup. The anti-coup protests have continued and the absence of any political agreement that would break the dangerous political stalemate over the future of the transition. The military has continued its grip on power while regular protests against military rule have persisted in Khartoum and elsewhere, leaving at least 94 people reportedly dead and thousands injured.

Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts have intensified to help Sudanese parties find way out of the current crisis. The Chairperson of the Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, visited Sudan in February where he met Sudanese parties for consultation on the political situation in the country. Professor Mohammed Al-Hacen Lebatt, the AU Special Envoy, also visited Sudan on several occasions to ensure consultations are inclusive. A field mission was also scheduled to take place from 27 to 28 February, but this has been postponed pending the readiness of Sudan. The United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) also released its report on 28 February highlighting areas of convergence and divergence among stakeholders, which is an outcome of more than 110 consultations. The regional bloc, IGAD, also undertook a fact-finding mission to Sudan from 29 January to 1 February 2022. Though diplomatic efforts by UNITAMS, AU and IGAD were not coordinated initially, this has changed in recent weeks as they agreed to join efforts in supporting Sudan to resolve the crisis.

As noted by Volker Perthes, the Special Representative for Sudan and Head of UNITAMS, in his latest brief to the UN Security Council on 28 March, reaching an agreement on: interim constitutional arrangement, the criteria and mechanisms to appoint a Prime Minster and a cabinet, a roadmap for the transitional period, and the type and timing for the elections remain ‘urgent priorities’ to address the current impasse and put the political transition back on track.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communiqué. Having addressed the key issues specific to each of the countries on its agenda, Council may generally emphasise the importance of adhering to AU norms on democracy, good governance and constitutionalism in order to avert the occurrence of coups and the resulting disruption to constitutional order as well as peace and security. On Burkina Faso, Council may take note of the positive developments notably the adoption of the Transition Charter, establishment of transitional bodies and the release of President Roch Kabore. However, echoing the 25 March 2022 Communique of ECOWAS, it may express its concern over the duration of the transition period set for 36 months under the Transition Charter.

Similarly, Council may emphasise its concern over the slow progress in Guinea’s transitional process. Based on its previous practice, it is possible for Council to endorse ECOWAS’s decision with respect to Burkina Faso and Guinea adopted in the Communiqué of its Extraordinary Summit of 25 March 2022. It is however possible that some members of the Council may find the threatened imposition of immediate sanctions in ECOWAS’s Communiqué counterproductive to diplomatic efforts and engagements with the transitional authorities of each country, particularly having regard to the recent experience of Mali. With respect to the transition in Mali, Council may welcome and commend the engagements between Malian authorities and ECOWAS Mediator. It may also welcome the initiative of the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs to set up a Framework for dialogue at the political and technical level, which led to the formation of the joint technical team of ECOWAS, AU and UN that proposed an electoral timetable of 12 to 16 months.

On Chad, the PSC may urge the military council to honor its pledges to limit the transition to eighteen months and exclude its own members from running in the planned election. The PSC may further underline the importance of holding an inclusive and genuine national dialogue.

Regarding Sudan, the PSC may express its concern over the lack of political agreement on the future of the transition and its impact on the economic and security conditions of the country. Council may welcome the joint efforts of AU, UNITAMS and IGAD to facilitate consultations among Sudanese stakeholders. It may also urge both the military and the civilian political forces to reach a deal on a transitional arrangement that would steer the country to the election. The PSC may reiterate its call upon the Sudanese authorities to refrain from using excessive force against protesters and hold perpetrators to account.


Consideration of report on the political transition in Chad

Chad

Date | 03 August, 2021

Tomorrow (03 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1016th session. PSC will consider the report on the progress on the implementation of the political transition in Chad on the African Union Support Mechanism (AUSM).

This first session of the month will have two segments. During the first and partially open segment, it is envisaged that following opening remark of the PSC Chairperson for August, Cameroon’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, and a statement by the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, the AU High Representative for Chad and Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission, Basile Ekouebe; Representative of Chad as the country concerned; Congo as the Chair of Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS); ECCAS Secretariat; Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), Mamman Nuhu; Representative of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD); Representative of the G5 Sahel Force; and Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to the AU, Birgitte Markussen will make statements reflecting their respective perspectives on the agenda of the session. Following deliberation among PSC member States and consideration of key elements for the outcome document during the second and closed segment of the session, August’s Chairperson, Churchill Ewumbue-Monono will deliver closing remarks.

This session is a follow up to the PSC’s request of the Chairperson of the Commission (at its 996th meeting held on 14 May this year) to report to it by the end of June 2021 on developments in Chad in general, and in particular, the work of the AUSM. The AUSM has been established in line with the PSC’s request of the Chairperson to set up the same with the aim to facilitate and coordinate the efforts of the AU High Representative and development partners towards providing ‘comprehensive and sustained support to the transition process in Chad’.

During its last meeting on Chad (996th session), the Council requested, among others, the completion of the transition to democratic rule within 18 months, effective from 20 April 2021; assurances that the Chairman of Transitional Military Council (TMC) and its members do not run in the upcoming national elections; and the urgent revision of the Transition Charter. The Council also requested Chadian authorities to ‘urgently establish the National Transition Council’ to serve as interim legislative body with a clear mandate to draft a new ‘people-centred constitution’. It further requested that ‘inclusive’ and ‘transparent’ national dialogues and reconciliations are conducted and investigations in to the killing of the late President Idriss Deby expedited. The report on the AUSM is expected to highlight developments towards the implementation of these measures, and the work undertaken by the AUSM to support Chadian authorities in this respect.

On several occasions, the leadership of TMC has vowed to comply with the 18-month timeline to organize national elections and hand over power to the democratically elected government. However, in his rare interview with a Jeune Afrique magazine in June, the leader of TMC, Mahamat Deby, ‘did not rule out’ the possibility of extension of the 18 months deadline attaching the elections on two conditions. The first is that ‘Chadians are able to agree to move forward at the planned pace’ and the second is that partners help Chad to ‘finance the dialogue and the elections.’ To allay concerns about their future plans, in a statement made on 20 May, the TMC members and its leader affirmed that they are not taking part in the upcoming elections in adherence to the PSC’s direction. There is the issue of whether members of the civilian members of the interim government are eligible to the presidential and legislative elections in late 2022. Unless the issue is clarified as part of its amendment, the transitional charter in its original terms does not seem to envisage such restriction, thereby leaving the option open for Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacke and his cabinet comprising 40 Ministers and deputy Ministers to run for the 2022 elections.

The National Transition Council, the legislative body of the transition, is not yet in place. However, the TMC has formed a committee of TMC leadership and representatives of main political parties with the task of appointing members of the future transitional council. Another issue that would be of interest for PSC members is to ensure that the national council is inclusive with its members drawn from a wide spectrum of the society representing the various political and social sectors of the public.

The 93-member transitional council is responsible for drafting a ‘new people-centred constitution’ and overseeing the revision of the transition charter, together with the interim government. The delay in its establishment also stalls the process of drafting a new constitution and revision of the existing transitional Charter, as required by the PSC at its 996th session. In accompanying the transition, AUSM prioritizes the revision of the Charter to ensure that there is a clear separation of role between TMC and interim government as outlined in the 996th session; the eligibility/non-eligibility of members of interim government and TMC are clarified; and the duration of the transition period is clearly provided with no possibility of extension.

With respect to the convening of national dialogues and reconciliation as directed by the PSC, a new Ministry of Reconciliation and Dialogue, a portfolio handed to a political and military figure Acheick Ibn Oumar, was established in May. Other encouraging developments observed include the release of high-profile detainees such as Timam Erdimi (son of former rebel leader) and Baradine Berdei (human rights activist detained since January 2020) and the legalization of the opposition party Les Transformateurs (The Transformers). However, the process has not yet begun. In this respect, the AU can play a big role in supporting Chadians to convene genuine and inclusive national dialogue and reconciliation to address issues of national concern.

Another issue the Council is likely to follow up during tomorrow’s session is its request for the appointment of a High Representative. In June, the AU Commission Chairperson appointed Ibrahima Fall of Senegal as High Representative. The TMC leadership declined to accept the appointment, hence Fall was unable to take up his assignment. Such rejection happened for the second time in less than two months. It is to be recalled that Somalia rejected former Ghanaian President John Mahama as AU’s High Representative back in May. There are media reports that Chad’s rejection has to do with issues of consultation. Unlike the High Representative, Chairperson’s appointment of Basile Ikouébé of Congo as the Special Representative and Head of the AU Liaison Office in Chad—who previously served in the same position for the Great Lakes Region—seem to have gone smoothly.

The report is also likely to give an overview of the situation in Chad. There are two main developments of interest to the Council in this respect. The first is the internal situation including the intrastate conflict between Chadian authorities and rebel groups, which significantly subsided in recent months. Reports indicate that rebels’ capability is degraded after Chadian army military engagement. Meanwhile, Togolese authorities managed to convene series of meetings between the TMC and four rebel groups including the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, otherwise known in its French acronym as FACT, in an attempt to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. The efforts have so far failed, as the position of rebel groups seem ‘irreconcilable’ with Chadian authorities for the time being. It is also worth noting that one of the opposition parties, the Transformers, and CSOs held rallies in late July against ‘usurpation of power’ by TCM. There were similar protests in April and May.

The second is the inter-state deadly skirmish between Chad and Central African Republic (CAR) in late May. The incident reportedly happened when CAR armed forces were pursuing rebels into the Chadian territory, resulting in the death of Chadian soldiers. Tension escalated quickly, but eventually the two countries agreed to establish an ‘independent and impartial international commission of inquiry’ composed of representatives from AU, ECCAS and the UN to clarify the circumstances surrounding the 30 May incident. The two neighbouring countries have experienced recurring tension for quite some time, and as such, the establishment of the commission of inquiry can serve as an opportunity to resolve the tension between the two countries beyond the incident.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. On the transitional process, the PSC is likely to welcome the progress made thus far such as the formation of a committee for constituting the membership of the national transitional council. Given that many of the important actions are still pending, the Council is expected to urge Chadian authorities to make tangible progress in this regard. Apart from calling for speedy appointment of members of national transitional council, the PSC may in this regard underscore the need to fast track the revision of the transitional charter and the drafting of the constitution as well as the convening of an inclusive and genuine national dialogue. The Council is also likely to reemphasize the need to comply strictly with the 18-month timeframe for the transition and for members of the TMC to abide by their commitment not to run in the upcoming elections. On the security front, the Council may echo the 4 June Declaration of the summit of ECCAS on the political situation in Chad, which expressed concern over the threat of mercenaries in the region and calls for an international mechanism to manage the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters engaged in Libyan conflict to avoid destabilization of Chad and the broader region. The Council is expected to commend Togo for the diplomatic efforts to bring Chadian authorities and rebel groups to the negotiating table, and may encourage Togolese authorities to step up the effort. Regarding Chad-CAR relations, the Council may welcome the agreement to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate the late May incident and further encourage both parties to strengthen security cooperation around border areas. The Council may express its expectation that the AU Commission working with Chad proceeds with the implementation of its decision on the appointment of the AU High Representative for Chad.


Consideration of the Fact Finding Mission on Chad

Chad

Date | 10 May, 2021

Tomorrow (10 May) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 994th session to consider the findings of the Fact- finding Mission on Chad.

This first session of the month is set to begin with the opening remark of the PSC Chairperson for May, Algeria’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Salah Francis Elhamdi. The AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, who co-led the delegation of the Fact-finding Mission, is expected to present on the findings of the Mission. Similarly, Djibouti’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Mohammed Idriss Farah, Chairperson of the PSC for April who co-led the mission is also scheduled to present on the mission. It is also envisaged that the representative of Chad, as the country concerned, will make a statement.

Tomorrow’s session is a follow up to the emergency session on Chad the PSC had at its 993rd meeting held on 22 April 2021. In that meeting, the Council requested the AU Commission to send a ‘high- powered Fact-Finding Mission to Chad’. It is to be recalled that the emergency session was convened after the military announced seizure of power after the death of the late President Idriss Deby Itno on 20 April, reportedly from the wounds sustained while battling rebel groups. A Transitional Military Council, established under the leadership of Deby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, suspended the Constitution and dissolved the national Assembly. The military takeover took place in clear contravention to the terms of Chad’s Constitution which provides that in the event of vacation of power, the president of the National Assembly should be appointed as interim president and lead the country to elections within 90 days.

As highlighted in our previous ‘Insight on the PSC’ for the emergency session on Chad at its 993rd session, practice of the PSC takes two approaches during unconstitutional change of government. The first is the automatic application of the Lomé Declaration and article 7(1) (g) of the PSC Protocol, resulting in the immediate suspension of the country from AU activities. Since coming into operation in March 2004 and until its 993rd session on Chad, the PSC invoked its Article 7(1)(g) power in fifteen (15) instances.1 In all the 15 instances except that of Cote d’Ivoire in December 2010, the PSC designated each instance as constituting ‘coup d’état’ or ‘unconstitutional change of government’. The PSC also condemned or rejected the ‘coup d’état’ or ‘unconstitutional change ofgovernment’ in each instance. Additionally, with the exception of three cases,2 in all other twelve (12) cases the PSC applied the Lomé Declaration’s stipulation for automatic suspension of the country concerned, with the PSC, in some cases, such as its 384th session, stating that AU instruments ‘provide for automatic implementation of specific measures whenever unconstitutional change of government occurs.’

The forcible seizure of power by the military in Chad is the first case in which the PSC failed to name the act as a coup d’état and condemn or reject it. This is in stark departure from both the clear terms of AU normative instruments including the Lomé Declaration of 2000 and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007) and the practice it has set over the years, at least in two major ways. On one hand, the Council stopped short of characterizing the military takeover in Chad as ‘unconstitutional change of government’ or a ‘coup d’état’. On the other hand, the Council neither suspended Chad from AU activities pursuant to its Protocol and the Lomé Declaration nor did it follow the Burkina Faso and Sudan approach that gave 15 days ultimatum for the military to transfer power to a civilian authority.

The PSC decided to task the AU Commission to dispatch ‘a high-powered Fact-Finding Mission’, with the participation of the PSC, to engage with the Chadian authorities on all issues relating to the situation there, particularly to support the investigation into the killing of the late President and ascertain the efforts to restore constitutionalism, and report back to the Council within two weeks. In pursuit of this, the Fact-finding Mission, led by the AU Commissioner for PAPS, along with the PSC Chairperson for the month of April (Permanent Representative of Djibouti), was deployed to Chad from 29 April to 06 May 2021. The delegation involved the participation of the representatives of five PSC member states from the five regions of the continent (Cameroon from Central, Djibouti from East, Egypt from the North, Ghana from West and Lesotho from Southern). The DRC in its capacity as Chairperson of the Union, and an officer of the AU Legal Counsel were also part of the delegation.

According to a statement released by AU Commission on 29 April, the Fact-Finding Mission would engage with Chadian authorities and stakeholders mainly to ‘get first-hand information’ on the unfolding political and security situation as well as explore ways to facilitate ‘a swift return to constitutional order’, while at the same time preserving security and territorial integrity of that country. The mission held meetings with a wide range of actors including the President of the Military Council, Head of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, religious leaders of Chad, President of the Supreme Court of Chad and President of the Assembly of Chad. The delegation of the mission also received a briefing from the AU Commission Chairperson in N’Djamena.

One consideration that seems to carry tremendous weight within the PSC as reflected in its communique of the 993rd session is the security context in Chad and its neighbourhood. Some of the developments that merit attention during tomorrow’s session include the intense political climate after a deadly protest broke out in the two largest cities (N’Djamena and Moundou), demanding a return to constitutional order. According to media reports, military crackdown left six people dead and some 700 people arrested. Also of concern is the fight with rebel group, the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, otherwise known by its French acronym as FACT, in northern part of the country, some 300Kms north of the capital. This is despite the rebel’s overtures for a ceasefire and dialogue. The military council ruled out any possibility to sit down with the rebels for negotiation nor mediation, but vowed to bring them to justice. Another consideration for PSC members is the fact that Chad is a key player as a major military actor in the efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism in both the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin regions.

Of course, these concerns about security and stability are not completely unique to Chad. These are threats that Chad shares with its two neighboring countries, Sudan and Mali, that also experienced military seizure of power in similar context. Indeed, experience shows that overemphasizing the security dimension leads to risk of the military considering it as a license to justify seizure of power in complete disregard of the constitutional process of the country concerned. While security represents a significant consideration, the experience of Mali and Sudan also shows that it cannot dispense with the need for upholding constitutional order and the application of the AU norm on unconstitutional changes of government.

In terms of the task of the Fact-finding Mission for ‘ascertaining’ and ‘facilitating’ swift return to constitutional order, the shape that the transitional process has taken shows no indication of a handing over of power to civilian authority. Instead, indications are that the Military Council is going to stay around. The Military Council, without any meaningful engagement with other stakeholders, adopted a Transitional Charter, indicating the continuation of the suspension of the Constitution of the country. This Charter invests supreme authority in the Military Council, with the Chairman of the Military Council holding enormous power including the appointment of both the Transitional Government headed by the Prime Minister and the members of National Transitional Council. It is to be recalled that the PSC has already expressed its ‘grave concern’ over the military takeover and urged the handing over of political power to civilian authorities in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution of Chad, at its 993rd session.

The Military Council named a government comprising 40 ministers and deputy ministers where oppositions are given some portfolios. For instance, the former Prime Minister turned an opposition and a presidential runner-up in the latest election, Albert Pahimi Padacke, has been appointed to head the transitional government as an interim Prime Minister. The newly created Ministry of Reconciliation and Dialogue as well as the Justice Ministry are also portfolios handed to the opposition. While some of this move received positive response from some oppositions including the longtime opposition figure Saleh Kebzabo, the fact remains that under the Transitional Charter, ultimate power is held by the Military Council. Thus, these measures that the Military Council took represent no progress towards return to civilian rule within the framework of Chadian Constitution as stipulated in the communiqué of PSC’s 993rd meeting.

The other issue on which the Fact-finding Mission is expected to update the PSC is the investigations around the circumstances of the death of the late President Deby.

The expected outcome is a communique. On the issue of the transfer of power to civilian authorities as per the terms of PSC’s 993rd meeting, the PSC may follow one of the two options. The first is to endorse the Military Council’s plan for the transition. This would be a direct violation of the AU instruments including the PSC’s Protocol and bring to an end AU’s policy of zero tolerance to military coups. The other option is to apply, as it did for Mali in August 2020, the AU instruments, declare the military council’s action a military coup, suspend Chad from participation in the AU activities and set out clear terms for Military Council’s handover of power to civilian transitional authority with the participation of various Chadian stakeholders for lifting suspension. The Council is expected to reiterate its deep concern about the increasing spate of violence and rebellion and the attendant heightened insecurity and the increasing operational tempo of rebels, foreign terrorist fighters and mercenaries, as well as the proliferation of illicit weapons, as consequences of, among others, the conflict in Libya. The PSC is also expected to express concern about the challenges facing Chad’s security and stability and the necessity of forestalling the transitional process from leading to the destabilization of the country, and the weakening of its role in the fight against terrorism in the region. In this respect, the PSC, as it did in previous instances relating to Chad, may also express its rejection of the attempt of the rebel groups for taking power by force and call for peaceful means for resolving the fighting with rebel groups. The Council is also likely to express its regrets over the incidents of violence on protesters and call on all parties to show utmost restraint and the de facto authorities to respect human rights as enshrined in different regional and international human rights instruments.


1Togo (2005), Mauritania (2005), Mauritania (2008), Guinea (2008), Madagascar (2009), Niger (2010), Cote d’Ivoire (2010), Mali (2012), Guinea Bissau (2012), Central African Republic (2013), Egypt (2013), Burkina Faso (2014), Burkina Faso (2015), Sudan (2019) and Mali (2020).

2The first instance in which the PSC did not activate automatic suspension after declaring the occurrence of a coup d’état or unconstitutional change of government was at its 164th session held on 24 December 2008 relating to Guinea. But this lasted only for five days. Thus, at its 165th session held on 29 December 2008, after the visit of the AU Commission Chairperson to the country on 26 December, the PSC suspended Guinea from participation in AU activities. The other instances are the cases of Burkina Faso in November 2014 and Sudan in April 2019 where the PSC set a 15-day deadline for transfer of power after declaring the seizure of power by the military a coup d’état and condemning it.


Emergency session on the situation in Chad

Chad

Date | 22 April, 2021

Tomorrow (22 April) afternoon the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene an emergency session on the situation in Chad. It is expected that the PSC Chairperson for the Month, Djibouti’s Permanent Representative to the AU and UNECA, Idriss Farah will make an opening remark. The AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, who was passing through Chad from a visit to Libya, is also expected to brief the PSC based on information from the ground. The representative of Chad, as the concerned country and the current chairperson of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) are also expected to deliver statements.

The session was called following the announcement of the passing of President Idriss Deby and the political developments that followed this unexpected incident. It is to be recalled that Chadians went to the polls for the national elections on 11 April 2021 in which President Deby was seeking re-election for a sixth term. The death of President Deby came only a day after the electoral commission declared provisional results giving him victory with 79.32% of the votes.

While the details of the circumstances surrounding his death remains unknown, it was on 20 April that the spokesperson of the Chadian army announced on television that President Deby died of wounds he sustained after being shot during a visit of troops on the frontlines fighting armed rebel groups. On 17 April, the US issued a statement announcing that non-essential US government employees have been ordered to leave Chad. This came following the speedy march of armed non-governmental groups in North Chad towards the capital city N’Djamena. Similarly, the UK, which also urged its nationals to leave Chad, reported that a group of Libya-based rebels, the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) was heading towards N’Djamena and a separate convoy was seen approaching a town 220 kilometers (137 miles) north of the capital. According to media reports, FACT grew out of rebel groups that were based in Darfur but established their base in the last few years in Libya in the Tibesti mountains, which straddle northern Chad and part of southern Libya.

According to the Constitution of Chad, in the event of the death of the President Article 81 stipulates that the President of the National Assembly takes over power. However, this constitutionally envisaged succession of power was not followed. Instead the military seized power. It closed Chad’s borders and imposed overnight curfew.

The announcement of the death of Deby was followed by a decree declaring the formation of a military transitional council taking over power and designating Deby’s son Mahamat Idriss Deby as head of the Council that seized power. The military spokesperson also announced the dissolution of the government and parliament and the suspension of the Constitution of Chad. According to the military spokesperson, the military council will lead the country on the basis of a transitional charter for 18 months until the organization of election.

The situation has raised alarms about the stability of Chad and its implications for the region. In a short period of time, a country that convened national elections has plunged into an armed conflict and a constitutional crisis that resulted in a major political and social volatility and uncertainty. It is reported that opposition politicians have rejected the military’s move. One of the major opposition leaders Saleh Kebzabo, whose UNDR party boycotted the recent election, told reporters that ‘we must follow the constitution, invite the AU and the UN to help solve our problem’. Another opposition figure proclaimed that this ‘is a coup d’état …and is not acceptable to the people of Chad.’ FACT rebels, who have been leading an offensive against the Chadian regime for nine days, on their part have promised to march on N’Djamena and “categorically” rejected this military council.

In this fast-moving situation, various countries with close ties with Chad have been making statements. In a statement that it issued on 20 April, the US State Department extending its condolences on Deby’s death expressed support for ‘peaceful transfer of power in accordance with the Chadian Constitution’. By contrast and in an announcement that ignores the Constitution of Chad and seems to be in support of the military council, French diplomatic chief Jean-Yves Le Drian called for a military transition of limited duration.

For the PSC, this situation in Chad raises both the need to avoid further deterioration of the security and political situation and the equally critical legal requirement for upholding constitutional rule in Chad. The dynamics in the PSC are such that there is no clarity whether PSC members would automatically apply Article 7(1)(g) of the PSC Protocol on instituting sanctions in the event of an unconstitutional change of government.

The AU legal instruments including the Lomé Declaration of 2000, the AU Constitutive Act, the PSC Protocol and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance ban military coup d’état. Article 7 (1)(g) of the PSC Protocol requires the PSC to ‘institute sanctions whenever an unconstitutional change of government takes place in a member state, as provided for in the Lomé Declaration.’

Over the years, the PSC has developed relatively consistent practice of enforcing this ban on unconstitutional changes of government. This has been particularly the case with respect to military coups. In a similar case that took place in Togo in which, after the death of Togo’s then President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, the country’s military, supported by the ruling party, announced Faure Gnassingbé as the successor to the deceased president, in contravention of the clear provisions of the Constitution of the Togo, on succession to the presidency in the event of the death of the president, the PSC at its 25th session held on 25 February 2005, expressing AU’s strong condemnation of the military coup and suspending the de facto authorities and their representatives from participation in all AU activities, called for return of the country to constitutional legality. In the most recent such incident, it is to be recalled that the PSC at its 941st session, condemning the military takeover of power in Mali and suspending the country from participating in the activities of the AU, called for the transfer of power by the military to a civilian authority. Similarly, in April 2019, at its 840th session, the PSC, rejecting the military seizure of power in Sudan after the incumbent president was overthrown by popular protest and deploring the suspension of the Constitution and dissolution of the National Assembly, which it deemed to constitute a military coup d’état, demanded the military to step aside and hand over power to a transitional civilian political authority within a maximum period of 15 days. This approach itself was based on the earlier decision of the PSC on the case of Burkina Faso in November 2014 when the PSC instead of suspending Burkina Faso immediately gave 15 days for the military to hand over power to a civilian transitional authority.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. The PSC is expected to pay tribute to President Deby for the contributions he made for peace and security in Africa and affirm its commitment for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and stability of Chad. The PSC is expected to express AU’s condemnation and total rejection of any military seizure of power in accordance with the various AU instruments and the announcement of the suspension of the Constitution and the dissolution of the national assembly. It may further underscore the need for a civilian based political authority and urge the military council to step aside and hand over power to such civilian based political authority. Depending on the information from the ground, the PSC, if it were not to opt for automatic application of the Lomé Declaration and Article 7(1)(g) of the PSC Protocol, may, following the examples of Sudan and Burkina Faso, give the military 15 days from the date of adoption of its decision for handing over power to civilian based political authority, failing which, PSC will automatically apply Article 7(1)(g) of its Protocol. The PSC may also call on ECCAS and the UN to work closely with the AU and initiate a process to facilitate the resolution of the situation in a way that does not endanger the stability and peace of Chad on the basis of AU principles and instruments.